Ben Carson enjoyed a brief period near the top of 2016 presidential polls and seemed poised to be Donald Trump’s strongest challenge on the way to the Republican nomination. Yet, his numbers have been slipping in recent weeks and now, it appears he’s reached crisis mode. Two of his top aides, his Campaign Manager Barry Bennett and his Communications Director Doug Watt, have called it quits.
"Barry Bennett and I have resigned from the Carson campaign effective immediately," Watts said in a statement. "We respect the candidate and we have enjoyed helping him go from far back in the field to top tier status. Having just announced raising $23m(illion) for the 4th Q(uarter), more than any other Republican candidate, and passing 1 million contributions and over 600 mm unique donors since March, we are proud of our efforts for Dr Carson and we wish him and his campaign the best of luck."
Carson’s outsider status seemed to give him an advantage in the 2016 race. After all, voters are still responding to Trump’s anti-establishment rhetoric. The retired neurosurgeon also had finances on his side. He raked in an impressive $23 million in the past few months. Yet, recent polls have suggested Carson’s star is fading. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from October showed him with a comfortable 29 percent of the vote. That number plummeted to just 11 percent in December.
Carson’s sputtering momentum can be due, in part, to national security becoming a more prominent issue. The retired neurosurgeon has been hailed by many pundits and politicians as “nice,” and “soft spoken,” but in the wake of terror attacks, it seems the public is ready a more tough-as-nails candidate. Patrick Murray, the director of polling at Monmouth University, explains this tricky contrast.
Conservative voters “really want an outsider candidate, [but] they want somebody who appears presidential … with a clear fire in the belly, and I think that’s where Carson has been letting them down,” Murray said.
Carson told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that he and his staff will be very vocal next week in regards to what’s next for his campaign. Stay tuned.